By Leslie Ann Blake
UNC staff writer
The Durham VOICE
Eat dark chocolate. Really, it’s good for you.
Kathy Kastan, the keynote speaker at Antioch Baptist Church’s fifth annual Red and White Luncheon, stressed the importance of taking charge of one’s own health. Eating dark chocolate and exercising regularly were among her recommendations.
“How many of us actually pay attention to our bodies, our emotions, our health?” Kastan asked the crowd of around 230 community members in the Durham Parks and Recreation Community Gym at the Holton Career and Resource Center.
The luncheon, which promotes heart disease awareness and general health, is hosted each February by the Senior Saints Ministry of Antioch Baptist Church. This year’s attendees were mostly women, each donning red and white outfits to celebrate the event, which was on Feb. 10.
“It keeps getting bigger and bigger,” said Betty Kelly, who welcomed the crowd. “I guess we’ll need the DPAC next year!”
“When seniors come out, we come out in a large way,” said Louise Gooche, who presided over the event.
Kastan, who is the director of the Women’s Health Initiative at Duke University, stressed the importance of recognizing the differences in symptoms of heart disease between men and women. She said that women often have a harder time recognizing symptoms, not only because theirs are different from men, but because they are not paying attention.
“We are so busy hanging onto that superwoman thing; we put our bodies at the bottom of our list,” Kastan said.
She also emphasized the need to see a cardiologist when symptoms of heart disease begin to appear.
“If nothing else, I want every woman in this room to understand they have the right to early detection and diagnosis,” Kastan said.
Sandra Reaves, who survived major heart surgery six years ago, told the crowd to listen to their bodies.
“If you don’t, no one will,” she said.
Reaves said she has gone to many events through the American Heart Association but has never been to anything quite like the Red and White Luncheon.
“You could tell people were having a great time,” she said.
“People enjoy fellowship,” said Beatrice White, president of the Senior Saints Ministry. “People look forward to it every year.”
White said that her favorite part is the performers, who are different each year. This year featured Mary Moffitt and the Realm of Senior Entertainers (R.O.S.E.) dance group.
Moffitt, who performed at Elizabeth Edward’s funeral, is a gospel singer and pianist. Gooche introduced her as the “Songbird of the South.”
Before her performance, Moffitt said she would sing “The Blood” by request and was not yet sure what her second song would be.
“Sometimes it just comes to me,” she said.
The R.O.S.E. dance group consists of senior women ages 62-74. Gooche introduced them as a demonstration of “the results of dance movement and its effect on the mind and body.”
After beginning with a slow lyrical piece, they later made the crowd laugh with delight as they donned feather boas and danced to “Lady Marmalade.”
Pastor Michael Page of Antioch Baptist Church said that, above all, the Red and White Luncheon is about feeling good.
“When you get ready to leave today” he said, “if you still don’t feel good, tell somebody.”
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